Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Research Background
Consumers across the world are increasingly relying on the internet to execute various activities. This has opened new opportunities to many businesses. According to Data Reportal (2020), more 65 million people in the UK are active internet users. These people spend a lot of time on the internet and are likely to purchase some of the products online. On the other hand, Statista (2020) stated that approximately 904 million people in China use the internet. The high number of the internet users in these countries has made organisations to develop strategies with the aim of converting the target population to customers. Companies have developed websites and apps from where members of the public can purchase goods and services that they may need. These platforms consist of images and details of the product or services that is offered by the seller (Kimes & Laque, 2011). They also have the prices for different products and services from where the customers can decide whether to spend their money or not. Additionally, consumers have embraced online shopping for various products. People have reduced their fear of purchasing products online. Most of them are willing to spend their money on products displayed online hoping that high quality products would be delivered to them. Furthermore, the consumers have acknowledged that online shopping saves a lot of time (Alam & Yasin, 2010). One needs to place an order through the company’s online selling platform and later wait for the product to be delivered to the consumer’s premises. Therefore, this has reduced movement to the physical location of the seller, thus saving consumers’ time and money.
Organisations in the food industry have embraced the use of the internet to increase their sales. The industry has in the past years relied on consumers to visit their premises to either take their food within the restaurants or have them packed to consume them elsewhere. In the current days, consumers have embraced ordering food products online and thus the companies have developed apps and websites where the clients can make their orders (Reddy et al., 2016). These companies enable the consumer to specify the product that they are interested in and states the location where it should be delivered. The management of the food companies packs the food ordered and organise how it should be delivered to the consumers’ premises. Some companies have their own delivery systems such as the use of motorcycles while other subcontract logistics firms to deliver on their behalf. The continuous embracement of online food purchasing is determined by the satisfaction that the consumers may have on the products. The satisfaction is influenced by the quality and quantity of the food products that are delivered to the consumers (Yeo, Goh & Rezaei, 2017). Furthermore, the time taken before the products are delivered influence customer satisfaction. The current study focuses on understanding the factors that would lead to consumers’ satisfaction towards online food ordering and delivery system in both China and the UK.
1.2 Research Rationale
Several reasons have made the current research crucial. These reasons justify the importance of carrying out a fresh research. Firstly, the use of the internet to make orders has been on the rise in the current days. Online selling and purchases have become common in the past five years and thus little literature is available concerning the issue. Additionally, online orders and delivery has been common in the electronics industry. Not much has been recorded concerning the factors influencing the online food ordering (Reddy et al., 2016). Therefore, it is justified to conduct the current study with the aim of understanding how companies that engage in online food sale can enhance customer satisfaction. Furthermore, the online food ordering trends change from time to time thus a study conducted some few years ago may not be relied to understand customers’ attitude and satisfaction (Chavan et al., 2015). It is crucial to carry out a new research so that fresh data can be collected to provide up to date information regarding online food ordering and delivery system. Moreover, the current study offers a comparison of both China and the UK on the satisfaction of the consumers linked to online food ordering and delivery system.
1.3 Research Aims and Objectives
The aim of the research is to understand the factors that influence Chinese and UK consumers’ satisfaction towards online food order and delivery system. Thus, the factors will help online food companies to make improvements that would boost consumer satisfaction. The following are the objectives that guides the research.
1. To evaluate the current trends of online food ordering in both China and the UK.
2. To assess the attitude between Chinese consumers and UK consumers towards online food ordering.
3. To evaluate the factors influencing Chinese and UK consumers’ satisfaction towards online food order and delivery system.
1.4 Research Structure
The research has five chapters that helps the researcher understand the satisfaction of UK and Chinese customers towards online food order and delivery system. The first chapter contains the introduction. It has the research background and rationale of the study. It also has the research aims and objectives. Chapter 2 is the literature review which has content from different scholars concerning the research topic. Chapter 3 is the research methodology which consist of the strategies used in the collection of data and its analysis. Additionally, Chapter 4 is the finding and analysis chapter. It contains an analysis of the data collected to present the ideas that each of the participants raised. This chapter also discuss the main points raised by different scholars and compares them with the literature review presented in Chapter 2. Lastly, chapter 5 contains the conclusion which has the main ideas that can be obtained from the research. It also has the research limitations and recommendations on how future research can be improved.
Chapter 2 Literature review
In the previous chapter, a theoretical background to the present study’s topic was provided with the identification of the knowledge gap the current research will seek to bridge. Additionally, the need to conduct this study was illustrated with the identification of specific objectives that the research will achieve through data collection and analysis. To assist in the achievement of these objectives, the present chapter conducts a critical review of existing literature within the context of each objective. The chapter will conduct an overview of the nature of online food ordering in both China and UK. Comparative evaluations will also be conducted on literature findings on UK and Chinese consumers’ attitudes towards online food ordering. Similar analysis will be conducted on impact of cultural orientations in both nations and how they influence satisfaction towards online food ordering and delivery systems. More specifically, the following literature review will identify research gaps in analysed studies ad illustrate how the present research will seek to address the existing theoretical gaps.
2.2 Cultural differences between China and UK
According to De Mooij and Hofstede (2011), people respond or develop specific attitude based on the unique features that define them. To study how people, behave individually and collectively as communities, Hofstede conducted a study on 71 countries and developed a set of five dimensions which have to date been modified to six elements that significantly define an individual’s or group’s culture (Hofstede, 2009). These elements are; femininity vs masculinity, collectivism vs individualism, restraint vs indulgence, short-term vs long-term orientation, uncertainty avoidance index, and power distance index (Hofstede Insights, 2020). De Mooij and Hofstede (2011) further argue that these dimensions significantly influence consumers’ behaviour and purchase intentions. In this regard, the conduction of comparative analysis between UK and Chinese attitude and satisfaction towards online food order should significantly require and understanding how the two groups relate or differ culturally. The present section conducts literature analysis of the cultural differences and similarities between Chinese and UK consumers how that influences their satisfaction with online food ordering and delivery systems. The diagram below illustrates cultural differences between China and UK based on their respective score in Hofstede’s cultural dimensions.
Figure 2-1: Hofstede cultural dimensions, Comparison of China and UK
Source: Author, Data Source: Hofstede et al. (2010)
The power index dimension gives an expression of a group’s culture attitude towards power inequality. According to Hofstede et al. (2010), China has a high power distance index of 80 compared to UK’s of 35. These variations indicate that the Chinese culture is comfortable with a section of the society enjoying power or with power inequalities. That is, the superior-subordinate power indifferences are perceived normally in the Chinese culture. On the other hand, a low power distance index in UK indicates that the society believes in equal treatment irrespective of an individual’s status in the society. The individualism dimension measures how the members of a society maintain interdependence. It’s a score of being either individualist or collectivist. China is a collective society at 20 while UK is an individualist society at 89. These scores imply that the British are naturally private and gain their happiness from personal fulfilment and focus on how their individual achievement and purpose can create an impact in the society (Ju, 2013). On the other hand, the Chinese are culturally collectivists. With this cultural orientation, members of a society work to the interest of each other more than for themselves (Huang and Lu, 2017).
The masculinity culture dimension evaluates whether a society is masculine or feminine. The former indicates that a society is driven by a value-based system where it focuses on success, achievement, and competition (Saucier et al., 2016). On the other hand, a feminine society is based on collective caring for each other and the quality of life. Both UK and China are masculine societies with equal scores of 66. On the other hand, the restraint or indulgence cultural dimension evaluates how members of a society restrain their impulses and desires based on the nature they were raised (Sun et al., 2019). The British culture is indulgent at 69 while the Chinese culture is restraint at a score of 24. With these differences, the British easily expresses their desires and impulses, use their resources to have fun and enjoy life, and have high value for leisure. On the other hand, the Chinese restrained culture limits their members’ extent of expressing their desires and impulses (Seidemann et al., 2017).
Short-term or long-term orientation dimension assesses how a society secures associations with past experiences and utilises them to overcome challenges (Hofstede Insights, 2020). A long-term oriented culture is regarded as pragmatic and members assume that time, context, and situation significantly determine the truth (Lai, 2016). Chinese stands a pragmatic culture at 87 while UK stands neutral at a score of 51. On the other hand, uncertainty avoidance dimension measures how a particular culture deals with the unknown nature of the future by either controlling the level of uncertainty of feeling threatened. Both China and the UK have low uncertainty avoidance scores at 30 and 35 respectively. This implies that the two cultures have no strong laws on future planning and that they take happiness in daily achievements (Adair and Xiong, 2018). The understanding of Chinese and UK cultural orientation as presented from the application of Hofstede’s model of cultural dimension is key in understanding their behaviour. These proceedings will be significant in the review of how each group satisfaction in online food ordering and delivery systems is influenced as presented in the following section.
2.3 The current trend of online food ordering in both China and UK
Online food and meal delivery consist of services where ready prepared foods for direct consumption ordered by different individuals are delivered to their doorsteps. There are two different delivery services for ready prepared meals which include; Platform-to-consumer delivery and Restaurant-to-Consumer delivery (Xiao, 2017). Platform-to-Consumer delivery market is where clients placing their orders are given meals from partner restaurants that do not necessarily have to provide food delivery services themselves such as the Deliveroo (Chorneukar, 2014). With the Restaurant-to-Consumer delivery segment, restaurants deliver foods and meals directly to the consumers. Various online platforms are offering such services include; Delivery hero, Just Eat or using restaurant websites such as the Domino (Deore & Shete, 2016). Online-to-Online food delivery is the most dominant market in China which is estimated to be over 38 billion USD worth (Xiao, 2017). Food delivery apps are projected to have over 350 Million users where Chinese people more than quarter order foods using their phones.
The most popular companies that offer online food delivery include, Ele.me, Meituan Dianpin, ENJOY, Daojia, and Homecook. However, Ele.me and Meituan dominate the market who is supported by internet giants such as Tencent and Alibaba Group Holding. Ele.me provides customer-to-customer food delivery and meal ordering services (Xiao, 2017). It also employs its food delivery staff and controls them based on customer locations. Consequently, Meituan provides users with a platform where they can order meals online and food delivery. The topmost cities in China involved in ordering online foods include Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Zhejiang among others (Xiao, 2017). Different individuals order meals online where most of these users are primarily white-collar job workers and students. Also, these users are overwhelmingly the younger generation. Offering takeout meals is a recent trend in Great China. The number of consumers using online food ordering platforms has been on the rise by the day. Half of China's Internet users have ordered meals online using mobile apps (Alalwan, 2020). According to Chorneukar (2014), the general perception of the online food business is positive since the growth rate by the year 2020 exceeds the traditional catering industry. The trend in online food ordering has also been enhanced by the provision of a variety of food options by restaurants. Companies like Ele.me have more than 100 restaurants on their platforms which provides customers with a variety of options like Western food, vegan, low carb, non-dairy and organic food options (Xiao, 2017). This trend is also evidenced in Europe where healthy food retailers have enabled customer to order healthy meal options online at no additional cost (Deore & Shete, 2016).
As the market continues to boom, the food ordering and delivery market are growing faster than ever in the UK. As compared to restaurant visits, online meals and food delivery services are more popular (Ghiselli and Ma, 2015). The rapid rise is the main reason most companies and startups build food ordering mobile applications. Among the most popular companies that offer online meal ordering and food delivery services include; Domino’s Pizza, Just Eat Group, Deliveroo group, Hungry House, Foodhub and Uber Eats among others (Deore and Shete, 2016). However, Deliveroo is known to be the most popular according to many people in the UK since it is inevitable to locate delivery men on bikes with boxes consisting of foods. Just Eat is the biggest delivery online platform as it acts as the intermediary between restaurants and clients ordering.
White-collar job workers, students as well as different households order meals online. Among those who order foods include the young people aged 18-39 years. The most active users are consumers who order takeaway meals more than once in six months (Ghiselli and Ma, 2015). Therefore, consumers order and purchase based on the convenience of the companies offering delivery services (Chorneukar, 2014). Finally, online ordering and food delivery platforms are fast and dismiss the need to make calls. The mobile applications use device location hardware to locate the users in case the delivery man is not familiar with the location (Alalwan, 2020). It is clear that a larger percentage of people in the UK prefer online food deliveries and this has caused growth escalation of the industry (Chorneukar, 2014). The future for the market segment in the UK looks bright since the introduction of Virtual brands and dark kitchens. Therefore, the general perception for the ready to eat food delivered online for direct consumption is positive.
Another notable trend in online food purchasing, as argued by Sun (2019), is simplified ordering process. Many companies in China have adopted the trend of simplifying the ordering process to enhance customer experience. A simpler purchasing process is said to lead to better engagement. A rising trend that has been recorded in China is the use of one-click in purchasing by food ordering companies. Use of this strategy has helped the company to mitigate shopping cart abandonment through creation of a seamless buying experience for customers. This trend is also evidenced in UK food ordering apps which have been recorded to increase in customer transactions by allowing purchases with only one click. Xiao (2017) reports that UK customers have become fond of ordering food online because the seamless payment services have provided a near frictionless experience in purchasing. Particularly, it is noted that customers have reported to be shopping conveniently for food online and save on time especially when in a rush.
Ma (2015) identified that modern delivery is a fast rising trend in online food ordering given the technological developments today. Food ordering companies have integrated modern technology in food ordering to save on costs and minimise delivery times. In China, the food delivery companies have implemented modern delivery strategy such as drones. However, use of drone for food delivery is not very popular in China due to the huge financial costs required to adopt this technology as well maintenance fees which many companies cannot afford. In China, Hwang and Chloe (2019) record that only one company-Ele.me uses drones for online food delivery hence showing the minimal popularity of this technology. However, some food delivery companies have been looking to introduce food delivery robots to deliver food in more than 500 office buildings (Hwang & Chloe, 2019). In UK, some restaurants attempted to use robots for online food delivery. However, full integration of robots has been hindered by poor infrastructure in larger catchment areas. Further, robots became unpopular because they offered no convenience for customers or time savings due to ordering restrictions and long delivery hours (Ma, 2015).
2.4 Consumers’ attitudes towards online food ordering
Consumer attitude towards purchase intentions is determined by varying market, product, and individual factors. These factors are responsible for variation in purchase patterns between individuals, industries, markets, and regions. However, Kumari (2019) claims that regional factors are more significant in the dictation of consumer’s attitude towards purchase intentions. This implies that consumers in a particular regional market tend to exhibit similar tendencies and behaviour when making purchase decisions. Consequently, their attitude towards purchasing a particular product or line of products can be studied collectively. In this regard, the attitude of Chinese and UK consumers towards online food ordering will be evaluated using literature findings. While online food ordering is associated with online shopping, Rudansky-Kloppers (2014) claims that the nature of factors that influence consumer attitude and/or satisfaction with food ordering varies significantly with the general online buying industry. The present review, therefore, uses product line specific literature to explore consumers’ attitude towards online food ordering in China and UK.
2.4.1 Chinese consumers’ attitude towards online food ordering
As cited by Liu et al. (2013), China has experienced a series of food poising incidences which claimed the sustainability of companies, consumers’ health and lives among other impacts. The aftermath was a turnaround of consumer sensitivity to food safety. As reported by Handford et al. (2016), the 2008 Sanlu milk scandal led to consumers losing trust in the ability of local brands to process safe foods and food products. As a result, this shifted consumer food and associated products purchasing attitude towards foreign companies. Additionally, consumers became sensitive with food quality and safety when making purchase intentions. According to research findings by Liu et al. (2013), Chinese consumers developed purchase behaviour on safe food products which they have continued to exercise in the case of online food ordering. According to the study findings, Chinese consumers were reported to prefer to pay more for safe food and food products they order online.
However, Liu et al. (2013) argues that Chinese consumers have shallow knowledge and awareness on food safety information. As much as they have a high and general preference for safe food, their ability to get necessary information on food safety is limited when ordering food online. The quest for safe food online suppliers in the Chinese market is largely sourced from word of mouth or online reviews. Consumers generally go for popular food delivery apps and websites, those they are recommended by friends, or those with positive customer feedback and reviews online. In addition to this, Chinese consumers lack knowledge on how to identify safe food, what information to seek, and what specific safety and quality labels to look for in online ordered food. Their online food buying behaviour is influenced by their attitude product name and brand unlike the expected sensitivity on product ingredients. A general attitude and behaviour is the perceived important on food expiry date and product name (Liu et al., 2013).
A study on consumer buying behaviour and attitude towards product information on purchase intentions by Ramya and Ali (2016) indicate consumer buying power as a significant determinant. Chinese consumers of online food ordering systems are mostly the working groups (Xiao, 2017). Their population negatively supplier power in the industry coupled with the availability of substitutes increases the buyer power in the Chinese online food ordering market. Nevertheless, consumer attitude and preference for lower prices shifts their focus on offers rather than utilising their power to go for quality prices. Kim Dang et al. (2018), also cites economic factors as significant contributors towards this influence and not product quality. The study also cites hygiene as the other factors that Chinese consumers would easily forego for reduced prices. Nevertheless, lack of knowledge and awareness on checking such features, as witnessed with food safety above, contributes to this pattern.
Chinese and Asian consumers have a unique attitude with online buying convenience factors. As stated by Spelich (2017), Chinese consumers prefer platforms that are easy to use and communicate through Chinese language or have an option to change into Chinese language. Additionally, sellers who provide multiple payment methods are highly preferred as much as those with outstanding delivery performance. Nevertheless, the above-analysed fails to explore and cover various aspects of Chinese consumers’ attitude towards online food ordering and systems. Kumari (2019) cites that trustworthiness of online information, company, brand or product certification for hygiene and food safety, and quality self-assessment are imperative elements that influence consumer attitude toward online food ordering. Additionally, Rudansky-Kloppers (2014) highlights information privacy, security, and value for money as significant contributors to consumer attitude towards online food ordering. To bring the identified theoretical gap, the present study will collect data whose analysis will provide results that illustrates Chinese consumers’ attitude towards these features and factors of online food ordering and delivery systems.
Nevertheless, the factors of product safety, privacy, convenience, quality, hygiene, buyer power have a significant influence on buyers’ attitude and purchase behaviour of nearly all commodities. However, the exploration of these concepts in the light of Chinese consumers is imperative in understanding their purchase behaviours as well as the value they attach to each of these factors when making purchase decisions. In the review and assessment of Chinese consumers’ satisfaction towards online food ordering and delivery systems, the understanding of their attitude towards online food buying is paramount. This will be significant in the development of data collection instruments to ensure that the analysis provide significant and specific findings on Chinese consumers’ attitude towards online food ordering. Additionally, this will bring the literature gap on Chinese consumers’ attitude on online food ordering and delivery systems as few specific and extensive studies have been conducted. Moreover, the findings will be significant in understanding their satisfaction with online food ordering and delivery systems.
2.4.2 UK consumers’ attitudes towards online food ordering
Studies on UK consumers’ attitude towards online shopping and food purchasing provide an understanding of the various aspects they exhibit in their choice and perception of online food ordering and delivery systems (Ghadiyali, 2017). According to a food safety survey conducted in 2012, UK consumers have a positive attitude on food safety irrespective of whether it is prepared at home, bought in restaurants, or ordered online (Prior et al., 2013). As a result, a large percentage prefers food prepared at home and buy food outside under unavoidable circumstances. A similar observation was made by Yeo et al. (2017), where the findings obtained varying attitudes on food safety based on respondents’ demographics. According to the findings, children and women were found to be no frequent consumers of online ordered food based on their attitude that it is not always safe for their consumption. While this group present the majority of the consumer population, it implies that UK consumers have low trust and confidence with online food vendors to produce and supply safe food. This can be credited to the operation system that most food delivery service providers hire third party delivery persons who are also tasked in delivery general cargo. Lack of speciality with marketplace delivery service providers negatively their trust and confidence with UK consumers (Das, 2018).
In addition, UK consumers have great knowledge on how to find food safety and hygiene information on labels of food ordered online (Spelich, 2017). The consumers are much interested with key food details and not the brand, name, or company though there is also a significant affiliation with popular companies and those with a record of quality products and services. This attitude is influenced by their lack of trust with online provided information to trust the safety of food. Prior et al. (2013) also notes that UK consumers tend to quest for company certification with food licencing and regulatory authorities to confirm their ability to produce and deliver quality food. This includes business licenses, operation history, food safety, and quality certifications. Additionally, other food details such as date of manufacture, date of expiry, and ingredients are significant information sought by UK consumers (Ghadiyali, 2017).
On the other hand, UK consumers have little trust with online information provided by food delivery and producers and thus does not greatly influence their online food ordering behaviour (Das, 2018). According to Prior et al. (2013), they trust information provided by peers or online review information from other consumers’ experiences. This can be attributed to the rise of companies offering safe and quality food. Consequently, their attitude towards food safety with regards to online food ordering influences their disregard of food prices, but rather go for where they have trust and confidence on safe and quality food (Wu and Ozkan, 2010). Consumers have a high brand affiliation and their online food ordering attitude directs them into engaging with firms where they get value for their money. To secure their interests of quality products, UK consumers prefer stand-alone online shopping platforms than marketplaces (Spelich, 2017). This is because with such providers, they are responsible for the entire supply chain from food preparation, packaging, and delivery unlike marketplace platforms. As such, the consumers have a positive perception and preference to buying platforms where food is handled by a single entity thus easier to track on food safety and quality.
A study on UK consumers by Wang and Herrando (2019) indicates their preference in online buying platforms where they have assurance of the privacy and security of their personal and financial information. This attitude also extends to online food ordering. As observed by Alagoz and Hekimoglu (2012), most online food ordering and delivery platforms require users to create profiles with their personal details and also include their delivery addresses. Moreover, consumers usually have the option of paying online thereby providing their financial information. As much as they prefer platforms where they have variety of payment options, lack of trust in their ability to securely handle their financial details negatively influences their ordering decision. On the other hand, Prior et al. (2013) found that most consumers of online food ordering and delivery services opt for ready-to-eat food due to time limitations of going to a restaurant or preparing meals. As such, they tend to prefer providers with great delivery performance in terms of speed and delivery service.
However, literature on UK consumers’ attitude towards online food ordering fails to cover key perceptions held by consumers in their online shopping intentions. As outlined by Rudansky-Kloppers (2014), online purchase websites’ ease of use, availability of more information online, availability of product varieties, and low prices. These elements would also have an impact on consumers’ attitude towards online food ordering and delivery systems. As such, the present study, in the quest of how product, logistic, technological, and shopping factors influence consumer attitudes towards online food ordering, will consider these elements when studying UK consumers. In this regard, the study will collect information that can be analysed to provide insights on how each of the highlighted elements influence consumer attitude towards online food ordering and delivery systems in the UK.
2.4.3 A summary of similarities and differences of Chinese consumers’ attitude and UK consumers’ attitude towards online food ordering
The above analysed literature on Chinese and UK consumers’ attitude towards online food ordering presents insights on how the two groups relates in their behaviour and intentions to buy food online. From the proceedings key similarities and differences can be derived from how each group of consumers tend to behave and prioritise product and buying experience factors when making their online food ordering decisions. Both Chinese and UK consumers have relative preference for safe and quality food. The studies analysed indicated that due to consumer knowledge and experiences with effects of food poisoning instances, they are very conscious on food quality, safety, and hygiene. However, there are differences on how they approach the quest to gather information on food quality, safety, and hygiene. Chinese consumers lack sufficient knowledge of what to look for in food labels to assess the quality. On the other hand, UK consumers generally have knowledge of what to look for in food label for safety, quality, and hygiene information.
Specifically, the analysis indicated Chinese consumers attaching significance to food expiry date, product name, and producer while UK consumers goes deep to seek producer certification, production date, and ingredients when making online food ordering. Nevertheless, they both have relative trust on online review from customer experiences to evaluate food quality and safety. Similar attitude was presented by both UK and Chinese consumers on word of mouth significance in their intentions and decisions to buy ready to eat food online. On the other hand, Chinese prefer low priced products compared to UK consumers who go for value for their money. Additionally, Chinese consumers were reported to prefer marketplace nature of online food ordering and delivery platforms unlike UK consumers who prefers stand-alone shopping platforms. This difference clearly indicates their differences in their quest for food safety. As outlined above, it is easy to maintain food safety and quality when it is handled by a single entity unlike where independent delivery services providers are contracted.